Virtual Handcuffs

Mobile addiction is on the rise and teenagers are the worst affected by it. To help those affected, NIMHANS, Bangalore, has started a ‘digital de-addiction’ centre. Read on to know more.


Teenagers are the largest consumers of mobile phones, often spending hours together on their devices

Rama Thillai

Bangalore: The world has seen a number of technological improvements in recent years, and mobile phones are an integral part of today’s life. While we tend to focus on its positives such as how much easier it has made our lives, we forget about the negatives that come along with it. To tackle this rising addiction many organisations have come up with “Digital Detox” centres.

Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma working in National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, came up with Services for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT), a clinic to help patients suffering from mobile addiction.

While overusing a mobile phone, people develop a certain fondness and individuals tend to compromise on the psychological, social, and occupational aspects of their lives. They also develop friendships through virtual networks which jeopardises their safety. This is possible owing to easy accessibility of the internet and anonymity it provides.

Ms Ankita Biswas, Clinical Psychologist, SHUT clinic, said: " Patients coming here are mostly aged between 15 and 21. The teenagers are usually diagnosed with gaming disorder."

According to a survey by ‘Digital Detox India’, 70% of Indians spend mobile internet time on social media and entertainment. It also states that India is ranked as 3rd highest porn-watching country. "Teenagers tend to compromise on their natural cycle of life and develop intimacy with the unseen virtual players. This is possible now because they have the platforms available to do so," said Ms Ankita.

Age is only a number nowadays. It can be smaller because mobile phones are replacing babysitters. “The youngest case handled at SHUT was that of a 13-year-old child,” said Ms Ankita. In some rare cases, adults are addicted to social media platforms such as “Pinterest” and “Quora”. SHUT clinic in NIMHANS does not completely deprive the patients of their screen-time, instead, it helps them focus on healthier ways to use the phone.

Ms Ankita says that in order to prevent mobile addiction, parents should make mobile phones less accessible to their children. They should also follow a concept of fixed screen-times, encourage outdoor activities, and engage them in hobbies.

While there are a number of applications to control a person's mobile usage the real problem can be solved only after realising that ‘everything has a limit’.

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